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From Pastor's Jerry's Pen

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Following Jesus Afar Off

"Come closer"

Mark 14: 18-72
Jesus and His disciples were completing the Passover meal and Jesus revealed
to them that one of them would betray Him.  They were all astonished that He
would make such a statement.  He then turned to Peter and said to Him, "
Simon, Simon, behold Satan has desired to have you, that He may sift you as
wheat."  The conversation continued with Peter saying that He would go with
Jesus to prison and even unto death, then Jesus predicted to Peter that He
would deny Him that very night.

What caused the change in Peter from the determination he had that night to
go all the way to denying that he even knew Jesus?

Maybe it was the same thing that happened when he took his eyes off Jesus
when he was walking on the water.  He began to look at the circumstances
surrounding him of the winds and waves, fear gripped him and he began to
sink.  Then Jesus in His loving way rebuked him and then stretched forth His
hand and pulled him back up.

Peter was bold in the garden when he cut off the ear of the servant.  He
was determined to protect the Lord.   Later that night though things began to
change.  Jesus is arrested and taken to the high priest and Peter's courage
starts to diminish, he is now following Jesus "afar off."

The pressure begins when a girl says that he is one of Jesus' followers.  The
same fear that gripped him on the water has returned and he denies that he
even knew Jesus.  Then two more people accuse him of the same thing; again
he denies that he knew Jesus and even cursed and swore.  He hears the sound
of a cock crowing twice and he remembers what Jesus had told him. The Bible
says he "wept bitterly."

Many times we look at Peter and think, how could he have done such a thing
to deny that he had ever been with Jesus?  Before we judge him too harshly,
we need to take  look at ourselves and ask, how many times have we been in a
situation where we were embarrassed or afraid to profess that we are a
Christian?  We may have been in a glorious church service on Sunday, making
bold statements that nothing will turn us away from the Lord, then something
comes  along that causes us to lose hope, to be fearful, or simply be just
too embarrassed to speak for the Lord.

Jesus knows us the same way He knew Peter; He  knows that " Satan has
desired us, to sift us as wheat."   We know the outcome of Peter was one of
victory; because later, on the day of Pentecost he was filled with the Holy
Spirit and preached and three thousand souls were saved.

There may be times it seems we are following Jesus afar off.  We may have
times of discouragement and times of fear but it is great to know that the
story of our life  is not over; we have the same opportunity as Peter to
make our life one of victory and we too can be soul winners for Jesus.





Testing / Trusting / Blessings


Genesis 22:1-14

The story of Abraham being asked of God to offer his son Isaac for a
sacrifice is one of the most intense illustrations for testing of one's
faith that any individual has ever gone through.  God had a specific plan for
Abraham's life that would affect all humanity and their relationship to God. 
God had to know how much Abraham could be trusted and how much Abraham
trusted Him.

God allows us to be tested too, often to the point of feeling that our
backs are against the wall and there is no way out.  He may allow a
situation to go on for awhile, then just about the time we feel we can't go
any farther God somehow makes a way of escape.  That is what happened with
Abraham and Isaac.  As they were walking up the mountain to the place where
God had told them to go, Isaac began questioning his father about where the
sacrifice was (v.7).  Without hesitation Abraham answered, "My son, God will
provide  himself a lamb for a burnt offering" (v.8).  The Bible doesn't say
this, but I wonder if an angel of the Lord might have been carrying a ram up
the other side of the mountain as Abraham and Isaac were carrying the wood
and the fire.  However it happened, the ram was there ready to be offered
just at the right time.  God always comes through.

If you will notice something else, the first thing that Abraham did, when he
and Isaac reached the top of the mountain, was to build an altar (v.9).  The
altar had to be prepared before the sacrifice was made.  God wants us to have
an altar, a place where we can meet with Him and offer ourselves to Him for
service.  Romans 12:1 says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the
mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy
acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."

Abraham had proved himself to God, now God was ready to use him to the
fullest.  He trusted God and God trusted him.  The blessings that God had
promised him would now be released.

God so much wants us to have His blessings too.  He offered his son, Jesus, for
a sacrifice for our sins; and if we will learn to trust in Him we will
receive those blessings.  We will go through times of testing but hopefully
we will learn to trust God more because of them.

There is nothing that is certain in this life, Jesus is our only hope.
Let's share the good news with others and tell them that "Jesus saves," and
if they believe they can experience the blessings of God too.

                                             ........... Pastor Jerry







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